SCOTS Ministers last night hit back over claims it was "feeble" on fuel poverty, saying Scotland was using "all available mechanisms" at a time when Westminster was reducing its support to zero.

Infrastructure Secretary Alex Neil, writing in The Herald today, contrasted his fuel poverty achievements with those of Westminster and claimed: "It is a record of which I and this Government are proud."

His response came after Dr Brenda Boardman, the expert who first identified the concept of fuel poverty a generation ago, argued that the Scottish Government's funding and delivery on the issue were failing to match the rhetoric and aspirations.

Mr Neil said: "The Scottish Government is using all available mechanisms within its limited devolved powers to tackle fuel poverty in Scotland.

"In total we are spending around a quarter of a billion pounds over the spending review period. In contrast, Westminster has cut its fuel poverty funding in England year on year, from £350 million in 2010/11 to £100m in 2012/13 and to zero thereafter – it will be the only country in the UK not to have Government-backed support on this vital issue."

David Stewart, of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, said the greatest fear was of a two-tier system which allowed private landlords to use different rules, particularly where they operated within mixed tenancy buildings.

Norrie Kerr, of Energy Action Scotland, praised Scotland's record by comparison with the way the UK Government was dealing with the issue.